Good Narrative Principles



IMG_5290My husband Henry won’t patch up the hole in our root cellar. As a consequence, each time it rains, could be day or night, I’m running down to the cellar to move our provisions to higher ground. I am having a dickens of a time keeping the potatoes, onions and parsnips from sprouting. Mold is everywhere. Surely that’s not healthy for our children, but still Henry won’t patch up the hole.

I know why. I’m not fool. Though neither Henry nor I have spoken a word of it to the other, I know that the hole joins up with a tunnel leading straight to the banks of the mighty Hudson.

I did promise to stand by Henry not only in sickness and in health but also in my capacity as his law-abiding wife and to support him in his earthly endeavors. When it comes time to meet my Maker I will mention the moldy potatoes as evidence of my dutiful nature.

I am looking forward to that moment as I bristle under his authority. Perhaps “bristle” is too strong a word. Instead, let me say that I wrestle with the daily challenge of how to feed our five hungry and growing children, particularly in this harsh winter where the wind blows off the Hudson and the snow accumulates at a steady and weary pace.

Henry would say that we are all God’s children. But for me, some of God’s children happen to be my children as well. I realize that others suffer under the great misfortune of having been born in slavery. It grieves me to say this and in no way am I hardening my heart against these unfortunate souls but at what point does Henry say “I have closed up the hidy-ho because I have done enough.” Tomorrow? Next month? Never? I fear never.

My needs are simple. All I ask is for one night where strangers don’t come a’ knocking and that a bushel of parsnips are marked only with a modest blush of pink.

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